George Greanias presided over his first Metro board meeting yesterday afternoon as the agency's new president, and board members seemed giddy to finally proceed without the dark cloud of Frank Wilson hanging over the place.
There wasn't any of that boring talk about lawsuits or document shredding or lying to federal transportation officials. You know, the type of stuff someone always had to bring up when Wilson was still around.
Actually, the board did have to deal with old Frank Wilson stuff, but we'll save that for after the jump, because things started out so fun for the Metro board yesterday.
Courtesy of Smiley George Greanias, for example, we got to hear all about the Bus Rodeo.
Houston now has the Number One bus driver in North America, an honor he won a couple weeks back in Cleveland at the American Public Transit Association's 2010 International Bus Rodeo.
The winning bus driver is Frank Gonzalez, a 19-year veteran of Metro. Along with Gonzalez, a bus maintenance team helped give Metro second-place honors in the overall competition at the Bus Rodeo.
"We can work as hard as we can at this board table and these administrative offices, but these are the folks that are delivering to the community," Greanias said.
To celebrate Gonzalez's achievement, Metro tricked out his bus. (See the picture above.) So if you find yourself driving alongside a Metro bus with the Number One driver at the helm, maybe you won't be scared as hell that the thing is about to run you off the road.
Hair Balls would like to suggest that Metro make Gonzalez a bus driver trainer, because when we find ourself driving alongside a Metro bus, we're usually scared as hell.
Now the important stuff.
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The board approved an official records retention policy that can be filed with the state to make sure that Metro is complying with laws, those things that always seemed to lead to a bad time when Wilson was around.
Metro is also spending $441,000 on hardware and software to make sure that public e-mails don't get lost in the shuffle, which always seemed to happen to Wilson.
Actually, Wilson allegedly deleted e-mails to hide a relationship with Joanne Wright, his chief of staff. A lawsuit filed on behalf of attorney Lloyd Kelley, who originally requested documents and e-mails from Metro, should be headed to court at the end of this month.
Regarding the new e-mail software, Gene Locke, Metro's special counsel, told Hair Balls, "Previously, this system had a finite capacity. So at some point you had to delete certain e-mails. Now we have a system where there is an infinite capacity to contain and store documents, so there's no need to destroy or to delete any e-mails."